Massachusetts organization builds houses free of charge for disabled veterans

Veterans Day is a time to think about the price many brave men and women have paid in the name of freedom.

Homes for our Troops, a national organization based in Taunton, does this 365 days a year.

“The veterans that we support are among the most severely injured that are out there. Most of them generally have loss of multiple limbs, are blind, have different levels of paralysis, severe burns, and traumatic brain injuries,” said Tom Landwermeyer, a retired Brigadier General who is now the President and CEO of Homes for our Troops.

This non-profit organization is providing hundreds of disabled veterans with custom-built, fully accessible homes for free.

Their latest project is right here in Massachusetts as they build a home for Rebecca Mann, a retired Chief Warrant Officer 2 who is now medically retired.

Rebecca was on her second deployment to Afghanistan when she sustained serious injuries. First, she had her right foot amputated, followed by her left a few years later.

Over time, her home became less and less manageable.

“The longer I’ve been in my house with the stairs and a steep backyard . . .I can’t do things,” explained Mann. “I can’t reach things in my house. The longer I’ve been in my home, I’ve realized it’s just not the right place for me.”

Then she heard about Homes for our Troops.

Landwermeyer said each veteran they serve decides where they want to live. Then they go out and find land and construct a custom-built home.

This is all free of change.

“They need a home that should be a place of respite,” added Landwermeyer. “Every single house has more than 40 special adaptations designed specifically to restore that freedom and independence that they’ve sacrificed to the veteran, to allow them to take of themselves.”

Rebecca chose Mattapoisett along Buzzards Bay because she loves the ocean and her mother retired nearby.

She’s also looking forward to having some usable outdoor space. “I think the bigger thing is me looking at the back yard and the trees and just imagining my dogs running out there. The big thing to me is being able to get out there with my wheelchair and throw the ball for the dogs, no matter how my legs are doing. I can get out there and play with them.”

Over the last 20 years, Home for our Troops has built 346 homes in 44 states.

They’re dependent on donations from corporations and individuals.

Landwermeyer said the impact on the quality of life for the veterans is significant, adding that the rate of employment doubles after veterans move into their new home.

Rebecca said it was hard to accept such a generous gift. “It’s just really just an overwhelming and humbling experience to accept something so huge, so it’s really hard to put into words how much this is going to be a life changing thing for me.”

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